Friday, March 18, 2016

#PDChallenge: An Overview

Just a little over a year ago, while looking through all of our findings from the NCTIES15 conference, my ITF teammates and I came across a real gem; a link to a presentation called "What's your APPtitude?". The presentation highlighted a Professional Development that was offered to two different schools.  It was from here that the idea of the #PDChallenge began to emerge!  

So, what exactly is the #PDChallenge?  

The #PDChallenge is district wide badging style of Professional Development that is self-paced and self-directed. This PD resource allows educators ranging from Kindergarten to Administration the opportunity to explore various digital resources within the environment they choose. Check out our BCPS #PDChallenge Website to gain a greater insight into the BCPS #PDChallenge.

Our #PDChallenge is currently set up into two different "challenges".  Teachers are encouraged, but not required to participate in either the iPad Challenges or the MacBook/Website Challenges .  After completion of their first Challenge, teachers submit feedback through a Google Form and provide a sample of their work in a "Brag Box".  The ITF at their school will then issue the teacher three things:

The I'm Participating in the BCPS #PDChallenge Poster.
The iPad or MacBook Template for Badges.

And the the very first Badge to place on their template!! 

The "I'm Participating Poster" and Badge Template are generally placed outside of a teacher's door. This lets everyone know that they are participating, they are learning, and they are growing as an educator!  For each submission after, teachers receive badges to place on their templates.  Each completed challenge is worth .1 CEU.  A teacher may choose to complete only one challenge this school year, or they may choose to complete them all.  It is completely up to the teacher!  

Completed Template

If teachers are expected to personalize learning for students, shouldn't a teacher's professional learning be personalized as well?  Personalizing PD allows for the opportunity to explore areas of interest at a convenient time, at a comfortable pace, and allows the opportunity to model being a life long learner for students. Participation from teachers in the #PDChallenge within our district has grown over the course of this school year.  We have administrators, administrative assistance and counselors participating, proving that it is not just beneficial for teachers!  The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, but just like with anything it is important to be reflective of feedback and suggestions.  Many teachers have given feedback asking if certain things can be a part of the Challenge.  This pushed us to begin thinking about a #PDChallenge 2.0 that will be rolled out in the Fall of 2016 with the start of the new school year.  #PDChallenge 2.0 will add a few beginning level challenges, but will mainly focus on depth of knowledge and content rich digital integration.  

Why consider the #PDChallenge or a similar style Professional Development?

This style of PD is an effective way to recognize teacher leaders, build teacher capacity, utilize available resources, and evaluate authentic feedback from teachers.  The challenge has helped our district provide a resource bank for each of our challenges where teachers can visit to find ideas to take back and use in their classes.  

The #PDChallenge has allowed me, as an ITF, the opportunity to get into more classrooms. It has teachers asking questions and eager for assistance in their classes! 

One of the most beneficial considerations for this style of PD is the teacher interaction with the tech begins at the personal level.  Our department has a saying when it comes to digital integration; personal use leads to professional use, professional use leads to classroom use, and classroom use is what impacts the most important part, the student.  

I am excited to see the impact of the #PDChallenge and to see where 2.0 takes us!   Check out our #PDChallenge on Twitter to see what is happening in our classrooms.